The extension services are expected to be instrumental in promoting sectoral schemes and fish consumption as an ‘super-food‘ packed with nutrition. To benchmark and understand domestic consumption trends, GoI invested in ‘A Study of the Fisheries Sector in India – An Overview of Current Demand and Future Prospect’ by National Council of Applied Economic Research in March 2023. The study highlights that expenditure on fish in proportion to total food expenditure has more than doubled as compared to that in 2011-12, monthly consumption of fish has increased due to increased demand in urban areas, 77% fish consumed are fresh water species – majorly Rohu and Catla while Sardines and Bhetki are preferred marine fishes. On a promising note, the estimated demand for fish is expected to reach 26 million tons in 2031. Hence such consumer preferences and indicators thus play a major role in defining marketing and branding strategies.

With the supply chain and distribution infrastructure at a level to handle the increased demand and sales points, the next priority step for GoI is to create awareness amongst consumers on benefits of fish eating through appropriate branding and marketing. Traditionally, outreach events such as organising fish and seafood festivals with celebrity chefs and webinars with sector experts, celebrating Poshan Maah annually in September, launch of 75 fish recipe books to celebrate India@75 campaign under Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, broadcasting of jingles on benefits of fish, installation of outdoor hoardings and digital displays at strategic locations etc. are being continuously undertaken by National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB), Hyderabad.

While various digital initiatives, especially on social media platforms, have been undertaken many others initiatives are being planned for extensive outreach, mass marketing and branding. Consumer specific marketing campaigns and strategic initiatives in the Ho-Re-Ca (Hotel-Restaurants-Café) are being planned. Another critical step being prioritised is the policy framework of standards, certification, accreditation and traceability for the sector.

PMMSY thus envisages to craft a robust marketing ecosystem and strategy to bridge the gap between producers and consumers by ensuring a seamless supply chain and increased number of sales points. Consequently, this approach not only fosters overall industry growth but also positively impacts the health and nutrition of the population.

Therefore, importance of fish consumption in India extends far beyond the dinner plate. From fostering better health to driving economic growth and cultural preservation, fish plays a pivotal role in the Nation’s overall well-being. As India progresses, recognizing and harnessing the full potential of fish consumption will be key to unlocking a healthier, more prosperous future for all. Sagar Mehra, Joint Secretary (Inland fisheries and Administration), Department of Fisheries, MoFAHD)